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Silence on borders

Though India-Pakistan borders are quiet, and people living near the line of control are heaving a sigh of relief for over a month now, the reports in the international media are contrary claiming that the two countries are likely to see another bout of escalation of ties. According to a US intelligence report, which was reported by several Indian and international media outlets in the last few days, the crises between India and Pakistan is likely to become more intense risking an escalatory cycle though a war between the two nuclear-armed neighbours is unlikely. The media reports attributed to an unclassified annual report on worldwide threats assessment. Taking the threat perception a step further, the US’ Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) on Tuesday said that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is more likely to respond with military force to “perceived or real” Pakistani provocations. The DNI oversees the US Intelligence Community and serves as principal adviser to the President on intelligence issues. According to DNI report although a general war between India and Pakistan is unlikely, crises between the two are likely to become more intense, risking an escalatory cycle. The report said that under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is more likely than in the past to respond with military force to perceived or real Pakistani provocations, and heightened tensions raise the risk of conflict between the two nuclear-armed neighbours, with violent unrest in Kashmir or a militant attack in India being potential flashpoints. The report is a cause of concern especially for people living close to the border in J&K. People who have always borne the brunt of the cross-border firing the two countries have been engaging in for years now. Such escalations, which heightened ever further after the Pulwama attack, ended in death and destruction for the poor people living on either side of the borders. In recent weeks, leaderships in both India and Pakistan seem to have employed a slightly toned-down approach and are more open in sending positive messages to one another. The Pakistan government and the military have issued statements signalling the country’s desire to normalise the ties between the two countries. The Director Generals of Military Operations (DGMOs) of the two countries had agreed in February on strict observance of the ceasefire. Pakistan Army Chief Jawed Qamar Bajwa had said last month that “it is time to bury the past and move forward”.  Last month, India and Pakistan also held the annual meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) after a gap of more than two-and-a-half years. While both countries are currently witnessing some thaw in the acerbic relations they used to share until recently, one hopes that the US report is just an over-assumption and the relationship between the two countries improves even more in the coming times.